For years I didn’t play with a capo. It just seemed like one more thing to get in the way of playing for me. All of the songs my band wrote were in standard tuning, so I never had a need. Our singer would often play with a capo, which I thought was just fine for him, but for me, as primarily a shred-happy lead guitar player I wanted nothing to do with it.
My tune has changed. When I decided to stop playing so much electric / lead guitar and direct a lot of my efforts to becoming a singer / songwriter with acoustic guitar I quickly found many benefits of using a capo. Such as…
No More Barre Chords
Well, not as many anyway. Many of the songs I write and sing are more comfortable for me vocally to be played higher up on the next instead of in standard opening tuning. This either means transposing songs into versions that require a bunch of arm-muscle-destroying barre chords, or simply capo-ing off the neck somewhere. Doing this allows me to raise the key of the instrument while still being able to play comfortable open string chord forms.
Great for Small Hands
In addition to almost eliminating barre chords from my music, using a capo higher up on the neck allows my small hands to much more comfortable hold chords. I’m a little dude (5’7″) with little hands. While I can certainly hold chords on an open guitar neck, many times this can result in string buzz. By placing the cap higher up on the neck, where the frets are closer together, I can play chords much more comfortably and without annoying string buzz.
Is That a Guitar?!
When you place your capo very high up on the neck, your guitar can sound much more like a mandolin or some other high register stringed instrument. This is a great and useful effect that can inspire a whole new range of songwriting and allow you to use more than just the typical guitar sound in your songs.
The more comfortable you get with your guitar through the online guitar lessons you take, the more you will be able to judge whether or not a particular song will be better for you with a capo or not.